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Publisher's Summary

In this brilliant portrait of the oceans' unlikely hero, H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped America's national-and natural-history, and why reckless overfishing now threatens their place in both. Since Native Americans began using menhaden as fertilizer, this amazing fish has greased the wheels of U.S. agriculture and industry. By the mid-1870s, menhaden had replaced whales as a principal source of industrial lubricant, with hundreds of ships and dozens of factories along the eastern seaboard working feverishly to produce fish oil. Since the Civil War, menhaden have provided the largest catch of any American fishery.
©2007 Island Press (P)2007 Island Press
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Another Reader on 12-13-10

Fantastic Book

This is the superbly researched and beautifully written book. I use it in college classes and thus have read it several times, and listened to it as well. Along with being a great scholar and eloquent stylist, the author H Bruce Franklin is also wonderful narrator! That’s not as easy as it sounds. Unlike many environmental stories this one encompasses the catastrophic but also an usually hopeful ending. Along with being a great read/listen this book deals with a really vital topic: the health of our coastal fisheries.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By nagi on 06-17-13

a most important book on the most important fish

What made the experience of listening to Most Important Fish in the Sea the most enjoyable?

great information about how overfishing one species could so greatly affect a local ecosystem which, in turn, affects the world
It took a bit of time to get used to the slow, scratchy voiced, and sometimes muffled narration, but the author is passionate and very well informed and I ended up really enjoying this book and narration.There is alot of great history presented on this little known(at least on the West Coast) fish and the tales of its abundance in earlier years is jaw dropping. Fascinating information about how long it has taken before man realized and was willing to do something to reverse the effects of overfishing. If fishing a species is going to destroy the ecosystem and deplete things to the point where we are endangering ourselves, then we can no longer "self regulate" fish catches and government(or an international fish conservancy commission) intervention is necessary.
You cannot leave it up to a corporation because their interests are short term and based on profits. It is amazing and disheartening to know that for this one species it comes down to ONE corporation! I hope the menhaden do not go the way of the passenger pigeon.

What other book might you compare Most Important Fish in the Sea to and why?

Four Fish by Paul Greenberg. Both are great books. Cod by Mike Kurlasky as well.

Which character – as performed by Bruce H. Franklin – was your favorite?


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was appalled at how human thoughtlessness can devastate the balance of nature so easily. We're killing ourselves through our own selfishness. That must be Mother Nature's failsafe to keep us from irrevocably destroying the natural world. We will destroy ourselves first.

Any additional comments?

thank you Mr Franklin for writing this book.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Amanda on 01-19-17

Great book, frustrating narrator

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes. The information in this book is important for anyone who wants a better understanding of the impact humans are having on the sea. I learned a lot about how fisheries management strategies don't consider the ecosystem as a whole and the interdependence of species. The book is well set out and logically flows. There are lots of real life examples that are used to back up the research, which keeps the book interesting to listen to.

How could the performance have been better?

Unfortunately the narrator is incredibly frustrating to listen to. He tends to run words in together, to mispronounce things, and to rush quotes. The pace is unpredictable with him reading quickly at times and slowly at others. He loudly sighs and swallows throughout the book. Occasionally he puts on silly voices when quoting someone he disagrees with. It's a shame that his performance of this book got so distracting at times because the content was very interesting.

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